ALBUM REVIEW – “Weird Kids” by We Are The In Crowd

One surefire method of garnering cool points among a band’s fanbase is to decry the single released from the album as the worst track on it – thus proving that you have more than a passing interest in the band’s catalogue. The fact is, for all the complaining, singles frequently are the better songs on an album; they are after all released to convince people to listen to the full-length. On the other hand, from time to time a band (or their label) does make an utterly bewildering choice of what they should release to preview and build excitement for the album. Case in point: We Are The In Crowd and the remarkably misguided idea that ‘The Best Thing (That Never Happened)’ was the best thing to release before new album Weird Kids.

How anyone thought that a song as dated-sounding, irritating and devoid of any real hook would be the ideal promotional tool for a really quite good pop rock album is anyone’s guess. Confusingly, it doesn’t even sound anything like the rest of the record, instead giving off the false impression that We Are The In Crowd had changed from a decent if not yet spectacular pop punk group to strange 80s-inflected Taylor Swift-inspired noiseniks with a predilection for the cheesiest keyboards imaginable. But enough ranting – the rest of Weird Kids represents a clear step up from the band’s debut that should win them a raft of new fans.

Much as Paramore did on their self-titled record last year, the band shed most of their (already loose) punk trappings to become a fully-fledged power pop group, and it suits them. Piano-laced opener ‘Long Live the Kids’ may sound like it’s been plucked from the Polar Express soundtrack, but it manages to land just the right side of epic without straying into melodrama. The two ballads, ‘Come Back Home’ and in particular the shockingly mature ‘Windows in Heaven’ represent the album’s highlights, showcasing the talent of vocalist Tay Jardine. The mix of the album is relentlessly streamlined, to the point guitars are often pushed to the background to make room for the vocals, but this does play to the band’s strengths.

Fans of earlier We Are The In Crowd material aren’t completely forsaken. ‘Dreaming Out Loud’ represents a step up in quality from their previous material that nonetheless retains a similar sound and vibe. Second vocalist, guitarist Jordan Eckes, acts as an effectively more aggressive counterpoint to Tay to add much needed attack to ‘Manners’, and indeed his voice is missed later on, particularly on weaker cut ‘Don’t You Worry’. Though the inclusion of both straight pop punk and more diverse material on this record can be mildly jarring, it does offer interesting dynamics and the band wisely keep the runtime down to just over half an hour to maintain cohesion.

‘Reflections’  serves as an effective summary of the record as a whole, a more dramatic and expansive take on their punk pop past. The lyrical theme of writing one’s own destiny is equally appropriate, and We Are The In Crowd deserve plaudits for having the cojones to step outside their comfort zone. The results may be mixed, but they have clear songwriting chops and potential is here for growth, and with a little luck (and some better single choices) they really may find themselves among the in crowd.

Rating: 7/10

[Michael Bird]

‘Manners’

‘Long Live the Kids’

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Watch A Full We Are The In Crowd Set On CaliberTV | RichardThinks.Org - May 3, 2014

    […] Read our review of We Are The In Crowd’s new album, “Weird Kids”. […]

  2. [Photo Gallery] New Found Glory, We Are The In Crowd, and Fireworks – Baltimore, MD – 10/14/14 | RichardThinks.Org - October 17, 2014

    […] sophomore album, “Weird Kids”, is out now through Hopeless Records and our review of the album is available for viewing. Our photo gallery of the group’s winter headlining tour from earlier this year is also […]

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